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8/9/10

"The Ocean Brings Great Things," as published in Revista Literaria El Tecolote


The Mexican immigrants
from whom I’ve come to collect rent
stand in a dark house
in the winter
surrounding René, their patriarch,
who halts our conversation
about seaports in Los Angeles, and Tampico,
where he has worked, to announce:

“The ocean brings great things
for those who bathe and frolic in it.
Each wave is a tale from overseas.”

René is a wave-spirit from Veracruz
turning to salt, and breeze, and foam
in the underground of our country,
where he works in the shadows.

Tonight his dining table
is an ocean unto itself
breaking on the beach
of my muddy conscience.

“I live happily,” he continues.
“There is no need to pity me.
Look on to me!
Look on the people that surround me!”

The way
in which his embattled,
teenage daughters love him,
his wife stands by him,
his fellow refugees support him,
touches me.

He hasn’t been to our beaches yet.
But I’ll take him, on the balmiest day this summer.
And then I’ll ask,
“What have the shores told you?”

The murmur of the beach is not in vain.
It is a constant cry, a hell-bent howl,
an echo from the open mouth
of the serpentine world.
Listen to the waves!
Listen to China, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran,
Palestine, Honduras, North Korea!
Listen to the fertile land of your own heart.